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Texas Leads the Country in Scientifically-Baseless Abortion Laws


  • Facebook via Texas Freedom Network
This legislative session has kept reproductive rights advocates busy fighting the wave of aggressive anti-abortion bills crashing through committees. But while these groups rally to keep fetal burial bills or Planned Parenthood cuts off the governor's desk, they've also got an eye on the dozens of abortion restrictions already embedded in Texas law.

While the Supreme Court's 2016 smackdown of Texas' HB2 — the bill that placed unnecessary regulations on abortion facilities — stopped state lawmakers from shuttering any more of the dozens of clinics it had already closed, there are still several laws on the books that, like HB2, are rooted in misinformation or scientifically-baseless.

And, according to new research, Texas has some of the most unscientific abortion laws in the country. Texas is tied with Kansas for having the largest number of scientifically unfounded restrictions on abortion in the U.S., according to a study released Tuesday by the Guttmacher Institute, a organization that crunches the numbers on U.S. abortion laws. The repeal of HB2 was the only reason keeping Texas from coming out in first place.

The report shows Texas has based most of its anti-abortion laws on conspiracy theories, rather than scientific evidence. Like laws that force doctors to tell patients that an abortion could leave them with mental health issues or breast cancer, despite scientific research that shows otherwise.

Or laws that require patients to wait 24 hours after first meeting with a doctor to discuss the procedure before actually getting an abortion — just so women can really think over the decision.

“The antiabortion movement has long been an evidence-free zone and many of its signature initiatives and proposals are devoid of any factual foundation,” said Guttmacher policy expert Elizabeth Nash in a press statement. “But we firmly believe that sound science matters more than ever in this age of ‘alternative facts.'"

This news came as little surprise to Yvonne Gutierrez, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, who's been working to unveil these same inaccuracies in current legislation pending this session. Since 2011, she told the Current, her staff has had to focus not only on fighting pending legislation but also repealing laws that have already passed.

"It's overwhelming to say the least," Gutierrez said. "How many statistics like this do we need to see before our lawmakers do something about it?"

The report has inspired some pro-choice Texans to take action. On Thursday, the Texas Freedom Network launched a statewide public education campaign to make sure Texans understand that these anti-abortion laws contradict scientific evidence.

In the past several years, Texas lawmakers have passed some of the most extreme anti-abortion legislation in the country," said Kathy Miller, president of the TFN, at a Thursday press conference outside of the state capitol. "And they have based much of that legislation on lies about abortion, lies about women who seek abortion, and lies about abortion providers."

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